So you're ready to buy a home, and using your VA loan sounds like a smart idea. Even if you don't have a home picked out, or even know how much home you can afford, one of the first steps to using your VA benefits is determining whether you're eligible for the program.
For many veterans, your DD 214 can help you get the ball rolling on the VA home loan process.
Only veterans of the regular Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard receive a DD 214, the military's official "Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty" form, upon discharge.
If you aren't issued a DD 214, don't worry.
Reservists and National Guard members, in order to determine eligibility for a VA home loan, instead have to submit their latest annual retirement points summary with proof of honorable discharge from service.
Discharged members of the Army and Air National Guard with no active duty time served must submit a copy of their NGB Form 22 or NGB Form 23 and proof of honorable service. Discharged members of the Reserves with no active duty time served must submit copies of their latest retirement points statement and discharge certificate.
Active duty members will have to submit a current statement of service that has the veteran's full name, social security number, date of birth, active duty entry date, lost time (if any) and name of command providing the statement of service.
VA home loan eligibility is determined through a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). The COE is an official document that verifies to your home loan lender that you qualify for a VA-backed home loan.
This is where your DD 214 comes in. It helps verify your service history and is a key piece of finalizing the Certificate of Eligibility.
To obtain a COE, veterans and other potential borrowers have to fill out a Request for a Certificate of Eligibility, also known as Form 26-1880, and submit it to the VA along with a copy of a DD 214. Many Can also use the VA's eBenefits portal online.
To save time and paperwork, the prospective borrower can also ask their lender, such as Veterans United, to request the COE electronically. Prospective borrowers would just provide a copy of the DD 214 to the home loan lender, and the lender would then submit a request for a COE through the VA's online COE portal, known as the Automated Certificate of Eligibility (ACE).
ACE has helped to speed up the VA home loan process and has contributed to the guarantee of more than 22 million VA-backed home loans.
It's important to note that you don't need your COE in hand to start the VA loan process. You can talk with a lender and start working toward preapproval before you've officially obtained a Certificate of Eligibility.
How can you get a new DD 214 if yours was lost or destroyed?
The National Archives holds military personnel records of military veterans. Veterans (WWI to Present) and their next-of-kin are able to request free copies of the DD 214 from the National Archives.
Answer a few questions below to speak with a specialist about what your military service has earned you.